Friday 13th February 1948
Born on this day, Jim Crawford, a former test driver of Team Lotus. His abilities as a driver were recognized by the founder of Chevron Cars Derek Bennett, who gave him the chance to race one of the works Chevron Formula Atlantic cars in 1973. He went on to win the 1974 Formula Atlantic title and was signed in 1975 to be test driver for Team Lotus. When he made his Grand Prix debut at the end of 1975 he had competed in only 25 motor races. He did only occasional races in 1976 and then moved to Switzerland where he helped Toyota to develop a number of racing programs before returning to racing in 1979 in Formula Atlantic. That year he scored four wins and was runner-up in the British Championship. In 1980 he raced in the Aurora British Formula 2 series and scored 10 wins and moved to European F2 in 1981 in an ex-works Toleman with backing from Plygrange. He finished fourth at Silverstone and sixth at Spa and after racing in the British F1 series with RK Racing he went to America in 1982 to race an Ensign CanAm car. He was then hired by RK Technologies, which was a carbonfiber manufacturing company to race a Paul Brown-designed CanAm car, which was known as the RK-March 847. He finished second in the CanAm series that year and in 1984 repeated the success and made his Indycar debut with the Theodore chassis. In 1985 he joined the Wysard Indycar team but thereafter raced only at the Indianapolis 500A popular driver with both fans and the media, Crawford showed his courage during his recovery from a qualifying crash in 1987. He took the green flag and drove his ARS Buick into the first turn. The car hit the wall with terrific force, with Crawford suffering severe injuries to both legs that required 12 months of rehabilitation. Crawford still used a cane the next May when he earned his best finish.
In 1989, Crawford set the one-and four-lap qualifying speeds for a turbocharged stock-block engine at 222.069 and 221.450 mph, respectively. He started fourth and was running fourth when he was sidelined by a broken driveline after 135 laps. Then in 1992, Crawford clicked off an unofficial track record lap of 233.433 mph. He drove an Ilmor-Chevrolet in his final race, the 1993 Indianapolis 500, and finished 24th. He failed to qualify in both 1994 and 1995, driving a year-old Reynard 94I-Ford XB in his final attempt at age 47. He retired from racing after the 1993 Indianapolis 500 and became a fishing-boat captain in the St. Petersburg, Florida, US., area.